Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
137Trip End Ongoing
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We are near the end of our Aussie road trip and we had to make an executive decision to either explore Fraser island or sail the Whitsundays. We chose the Fraser. Reason being was because we felt we already experienced snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and well, we thought sailing Whits would be more of the "same, same."
Most people visiting the East Coast of Australia have Fraser Island on their itinerary. WHY? First of all, it is a very large island second only to Tasmania in size. Second, it is fully protected as a National Park and a World Heritage Site therefore, all development is prohibited and there is no permanent population. Finally, it is in pristine condition and is one of the few places on earth where subtropical rain forests grow on sand. Not too many places on this earth are kept in their natural environment.
Four by four
There are several options to get to Fraser. Most people opt to take a group tour. Another, pricier scenario involves renting a jeep or shuttling your own jeep on a ferry. Some backpackers take a passenger ferry and hike across the island. It is necessary to have a tent and an ample supply of food. In addition, the hike from one end to the other end of the island takes about five days.
Being the extreme hiker, Sasha was tempted to choose the hiking option but he decided to rule against if for major reasons: the sand gets very cold at night, the ecosystem is full of predators and we simply did not have enough time and energy for another multi day hike. We choose to do a 2 day tour, short and sweet. We left our trusty wagon at the nearby holiday park and let the guide do the driving.
The island has no paved roads and a four wheel drive was absolutely required to get around. Our group was fairly large and we all got on a bus after crossing from the mainland Queensland via narrow straits. The bus was equipped with seat belts for every passenger and the driver strongly suggested to buckle up. It was really bumpy at times so seat belts were there for a very good reason. Our tour was an overnight excursion. Activities varied: jungle hikes, swimming in clear lakes, walking on the beach. To Sasha's regret we were strictly prohibited from entering the ocean as waters were infested by man eating tiger sharks.
Slow as molasses
While driving a narrow passageway we observed a vehicle in distress. A couple of people were stuck in the sand blocking the roadway. Looked like they managed to drive their lemon on the island which had no 4X4. Bad idea. Our guide got off and advised to speed up through the sand as fast as possible. The operator of the other car stubbornly insisted that he was trying to dig himself out completely.
"That doesn't make sense," our guide answered.
"Listen to me. I do that for a living!" When you slowly spin your tires you will dig yourself up again. You need to speed up!"
exclaimed our guide
Let's call the man in distress, "Jo Schmo." Joe didn't want to budge and the traffic backed up behind him very quickly. Luckily, there were several volunteers to get off our bus offered to push the unfortunate car out, Sasha among them. Once the car was pushed for several yards, a jeep ahead hooked it by a cable and pulled it towards a nearby open beach. Bottleneck cleared.
Frazer beaches act as highways. They post speed limits and, oddly enough, there are speed cameras hidden at the treetops. At the sunset, we were driven on the beach to see the local predators. Sasha and Dasha saw some dingoes in the outback. The dingos didn't seem as scary as they thought. In fact, they just looked like large dogs but have much more in common with a wolf. They didn’t bark, they howled. Our guide explained the dingos would be hanging out near our resort on sunset, trying to penetrate into the dumpster.
Lap of luxury
We were happy we were not camping that night since it got very cold. Sand does not retain heat at all and we were lucky to have our own room in a lodge. It had been many weeks since Sasha and Dasha slept in a room that had four walls and had a roof above their heads. So much luxury for our two backpackers!
Aussies love to drink and our driver was no exception. We met up with the gang at the local bar to chill and relax. We made two new friends: a Canadian girl from Vancouver and a professional poker player living in Thailand. We had some laughs and exchanged travel stories. It was a fun night!
Hit the road, SD!
We had a fun two days just riding the super bus. Sasha got a break from driving and Dasha got her comfortable hotel room. Back to the caravan park to pitch our tent. Our campsite was set amongst the beautiful lilies. There was a pond, too however, it was man made. It was still pretty.
One word answer
"Different," is a good word to describe Fraser island. It is an ecosystem free of human intervention. It showed us how Australia may have looked like hundreds of years ago.
Hopefully, it will stay that way for generations to come.
That's all folks,